“The most innocent victims of war: Children and Women – from child soldiers to sex slaves”
By Asha Asokan, Class 17 RPF and MIDP 2020
More than 350 million children are living in conflict-affected areas around the world. Women and children account for more than 80% of the casualties of conflict and war. Despite advocacy at the global and local levels by different international and national organizations for the protection of women and children, we still wake up every day hearing news of the killing and maiming of innocent children and women. During and after armed conflict, children are used as combatants; girls and women as sex slaves. During my work in Sudan and South Sudan, I have seen the horrific impacts of war and armed conflict on civilians especially women and children, and the impact is long term.
The Rotary World Peace Conference, held in Ontario, California on January 17 – 18, 2020, was an opportunity for me to advocate for the protection of women and children affected by war and armed conflict. It was an opportunity to share with the audience, based on my experience in conflict countries working with United Nations and Nonviolent Peaceforce, the impact of war and armed conflict on women and children, and also the need to support and strengthen community structures in averting conflicts and violence by using nonviolent methods.
As a member of the Nuclear Weapons Education Sub Committee, Rotarian Action Group for Peace (RAGFP), at the conference I was also delighted to see the strong momentum advocating to ban nuclear weapons.
The conference brought together leaders, experts, and practitioners working on peace in different areas from different countries. It was an opportunity to meet leaders working on peace, learn peace-building mechanisms, share ideas and take action for world peace.
*Photo with Branka Panic, RPF class 16 Alum of the Duke-UNC Rotary Peace Center. Branka presented a session on “Peace In the Age of Artificial Intelligence.”